From student to specialist: a look inside Brett Erickson’s career journey
Brett Erickson, Control Systems Specialist, has been with Tolko’s High Level Division since September 2017. But, his history with Tolko began a few years earlier when Brett had a 20-month engineering co-op placement at the division that solidified his decision to stick with Tolko.
“I returned to school afterwards and was able to hear about other peoples’ co-op experiences and became very grateful for my own,” says Brett. “I realized that our industry is very fast-paced, technically complex, and heavily automated relative to others. The projects I was able to work on were interesting, and the skills I learned were universally applicable. On top of that, I was fortunate to learn from and work within a team of bright people who I would also consider friends – it just made sense to continue being part of a team and industry like that when I was offered a permanent position.”
Brett’s current job keeps him busy maintaining and improving the site’s control systems infrastructure.
“As part of my job, I work with PLC programming, HMI design, machine vision, configuring sensors and devices, and maintaining process software,” says Brett. “My weekdays are usually spent balancing project and mill improvement work, responding to controls related downtime issues, or helping troubleshoot issues with equipment. Weekends are great for updating software and firmware or downloading major changes to the PLC controllers.”
Brett enjoys his job – even when things go a little sideways.
“The most challenging times for me are when the mill encounters a controls issue that nobody has encountered before, and I need to troubleshoot this unknown issue in a downtime situation. Sometimes it’s a bizarre motor drive fault, and other times hardware is not behaving as expected. It can be stressful when everyone’s counting on you to get the line running again, and you have to learn on the fly. And sometimes there are long nights resolving issues. But you do whatever you need to do to figure it out, and every win gives you greater confidence in your ability to manage the next challenge.”
Even when things go sideways, there’s one thing that will always put Brett back on track and in a great mood.
“I love the focus on innovation,” says Brett. “So far in the last two years I’ve been able to work on five SR&ED projects, one of which is heavily focused towards Machine Learning and AI, and I’m looking forward to being a part of future projects that push industry boundaries.”
And what about living “up north” in High Level?
Brett says he and his wife are having a great time.
“In my opinion, the community of High Level brings out the best in people. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, and it makes you want to follow suit. My wife and I have made a lot of friends and memories in the short time living there. The five-minute commute to work and lack of traffic lights is great as well!”